Enchanted Winter Garden: 5,000 residents to be invited free of charge to Antrim event
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Of these, 4,200 will be members of community and voluntary groups in Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough. The remainder will be guests whom councillors feel are “most deserving” of an invitation. All attractions will be free of charge.
Commenting at a meeting of the borough council’s Community Planning Committee on Monday evening, Antrim DUP Councillor Paul Dunlop BEM said: “This event gets bigger every year. There is a bit of a buzz around Antrim already.”
Committee chair Macedon Sinn Fein Cllr Taylor McGrann said: “It is always a great event. It is great to see 4,200 complimentary tickets being given to those struggling and those hit most with cost of living.”
Last year, the Enchanted Winter Garden event brought in £788,804 for the local authority. Of this sum, £81,539 was profit. In 2021, it was £138,000.
In February, councillors approved a price increase which will almost double the entrance fee for out-of-town visitors to the high profile pre-Christmas event.
The council believes the price hikes have the potential to generate additional income of £180,000. Additional lighting to the tune of £50,000 has also been approved.
Councillors have agreed a price rise for out-of-town visitors which will see entrance fees rise from £6 to £10 per adult, £4 to £7 per child and from £18 to £30 for a family of four.
Last April, councillors were told profits during the next five years are required to help cover the cost of the newly-created ‘Clockwork Garden’ feature by celebrity garden designer Diarmuid Gavin at Antrim Castle Gardens.
They heard previously that some 74% of 123,388 visitors who attended live outside the borough. They were told last year’s visitor figures were the highest since the event began in 2013. The festive event was free of charge for the first four years.
Last year’s festive experience at Antrim Castle Gardens included dazzling illuminations, artisan food stalls, walkabout characters and star attractions such as the Big Wheel, Helter Skelter and The Wonderland Wood.
Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter